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Climate Change Contacts

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Clean Energy & Climate Change
— Regulations

These sunflowers in the San Joaquin Valley in California will be used to make renewable biodiesel fuel.

EPA uses its authority under the federal Clean Air Act to ensure that air emissions are safe for people and the environment. For many years, Clean Air Act permits have included emission limits for several specific pollutants in order to meet federal health and environmental standards.

In addition to these historically regulated pollutants, EPA has recently issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases constitute air pollution that threatens public health and welfare.

EPA Proposed Regulations

Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings

On April 17, 2009 Administrator Lisa Jackson signed two related Findings, an Endangerment Finding that six key greenhouse gases constitute a threat to human health and welfare, and a Cause and Contribute Finding that four of these greenhouse gases are emitted from motor vehicles and contribute to atmospheric concentrations.

National Fuel Economy Policy

On May 19, 2009 President Obama set in motion a new national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. The EPA and Dept. of Transportation will work together on drafting this regulation.

California Greenhouse Gas Waiver Request

EPA is in the process of reconsidering a 2005 request by the California Air Resources Board for a waiver of pre-emption for its greenhouse gas regulations for certain new motor vehicles beginning with Model Year 2009. On January 26, 2009, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to assess whether its 2008 denial of the waiver based on California's application was appropriate in light of the Clear Air Act.

Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rule

EPA's proposed rule is similar to California's GHG Mandatory Reporting RegulationExiting EPA (disclaimer) enacted in December 2007, in that they both require facility-level reporting of GHG emissions on an annual cycle. Both regulations require sources emitting greater than or equal to 25,000 metric tons CO2 per year to report, though EPA's threshold is based on the summation of all GHGs translated into metric tons CO2 equivalent per year and the California threshold is based only on CO2 emissions per year.

The regulations are also different in that EPA's rule proposes self-certification by facility operators with EPA verification to ensure the completeness and quality of reported emissions data and California's regulation require facility operators to use an independent third-party verifier. Finally, EPA is proposing that facility operators report directly to EPA, so facility operators in California will be required to report emissions to both EPA and California. In order to reduce the burden of reporting, EPA is working with The Climate RegistryExiting EPA (disclaimer) and the Exchange NetworkExiting EPA (disclaimer) on a data exchange standard for GHG reporting.

Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS)

The Renewable Fuel Standard 2 has some similarities to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, though the standards vary in several key respects. While the federal RFS program includes GHG thresholds which are intended to produce some GHG reductions, there are no overall GHG reduction targets in the RFS program.  A Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, on the other hand, would make GHG reductions the target instead of volumes of renewable fuel.

The lifecycle analyses conducted for the RFS program could be used as the basis for a LCFS program as well, though the analyses continue to undergo improvement.  However, the standards under and LCFS program would be expressed differently and could apply to all transportation fuels including gasoline and diesel rather than just renewable fuels.

Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

Geologic sequestration is the process of injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) from a source, such as a coal-fired electric generating power plant, through a well into the deep subsurface. With proper site selection and management, geologic sequestration could play a major role in reducing emissions of CO2. EPA announced in October 2007 that the Agency planned to propose regulations to ensure consistency in permitting full-scale geologic sequestration projects in the summer of 2008. Several public stakeholder workshops were held to inform the regulatory development process.

EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality have issued a Class 5 Underground Injection Control permit for this pilot study. The facility will inject 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide into an underground saline formation in Joseph City, AZ and monitor the carbon dioxide movement over time.

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